by Laura Eley
Anticipating the July 2016 release of their debut full-length album, Goodwood Atoms continues to evolve their sound, a style that’s been compared to electro-indie masters like Half Moon Run and alt-J. Their 2014 EP marked the beginning of the relatively young band’s discography, and since then they’ve been plugging away on their upcoming record, with the welcomed support of FACTOR funding. Stopping by Toronto to play at Canadian Music Week, the Vancouver-based group took a few minutes to chat with QUIP about their new tunes, producing, and, of course, being musicians in Canada. Check it out.
Laura Eley: Tell me about what you’ve been up to since the release of your 2014 EP.
Francis Hooper: It’s been a lot of refining what flavor we actually want to become; honing-in on that color palette of what would make it in on this first album has had many phases. I feel like with this last batch of songs we wrote, everyone’s put in their vision and its starting to feel really great. The producers are a huge factor; they’re basically another part of the band, and you can learn so much from them. Working with Nygel Asselin, who worked with Half Moon Run, was awesome, too. I think we just needed to figure out what we wanted, and he was really good at showing us all the options. A few of the songs on the album are self-produced songs.
Dawson Veboven: We were lucky enough, too, to work with Shawn Cole who’s an awesome producer in Vancouver. We’ve been blessed to work with multiple people.
LE: Can you talk about your upcoming album?
FH: There are kind of different themes in terms of genres; it wouldn’t be condensed into one, but we definitely have acoustic elements mixed with electronic elements and the feels go from sorrow, heavy moods to its Saturday night and we’re ready to let it all loose.
DV: It’s an amalgamation of all those things; the first EP was mostly Joe and Francis, and then Justin and I joined the band, and our working relationship and friendship have gotten really strong, which creates a different dynamic.
LE: How do you feel about self-producing music vs. having a producer involved?
Joe Pooley: We have a lot of production talent in the band; Francis is very talented on the production side, and Dawson and Justin also have experience in that area, so there are a lot of voices in that process. When we work with other producers, it can be a struggle against their influence. When something is self-produced, you can trust your own vision a little bit more. Then again, sometimes you need to give-up that control and open yourself to somebody’s else’s input – we’ve seen both sides of the coin, and finishing-up our album, it’s going to be a bit more self-produced. We’re looking forward to exploring that.
LE: How important are lyrics to your music?
FH: It can feel right when you’re writing, but as soon as you start playing the lyrics, and trying to connect them to the music, it just feels overthought. I think the tendency for us is to go with whatever feels the most natural; it becomes more of a tone poem, and you’re left to create the meaning of some of those words put together, as well. Anything that’s super rich and connectable, as soon as the words become a definition of a feeling, it doesn’t feel good. But, if it feels right to sing and, if instead of writing it down I can hear it the next day, I know it’s a good lyric. I find if it doesn’t click, if it’s not like an ‘F-YEAH!’, then you can leave it on the backburner and keep jamming. Sometimes when you play live, that nugget can come out of ‘that feels great – that’s the one we’ll go with’.
LE: Can you define a “Canadian sound” in regards to indie music?
FH: When I think of a Canadian sound, I think of more of an Eastern sound, that sort of twang and play on our language. Kathleen Edwards is a good example of just enough twang. A lot of people have actually told us that we have a very Canadian sound, but I’m not really sure where that stems from.
DV: The older stuff had more fiddle in it, which probably connected people to the idea of foot stomping and Tom Connors. I would say from a lot of the people we know, Mike Edel is a great representation of Canadian folk.
LE: Being a musician can be a grind. What keeps you motivated to make music?
FH: There are a few facets; the community side of the music and the social side are extremely powerful. Coming to see friends and family that we haven’t seen in a while — it’s a social bond thing. And, music is a way for us to transcend, and later in life, know where we were at during that point in our lives.
JP: Music is what I’d be doing anyways, I’ve always been drawn to it. It was just like ‘you may as well be doing something you enjoy’.